Wednesday, September 19, 2012



- Joy Krauthammer © 

A meaningful day today on Rosh Hashana with B'nai Horin's Rabbis Stan Levy and Laura Owens, cantors, musicians, shofar players, poets, playwrights, prayer community and gardeners and guards at American Jewish University's Brandeis-Bardin country property. Moving into the chapel on the ground's main lower level (not as overwhelmingly large as the House of the Book), was a positive move! So many congregants said this to me. I did miss the two mile drive up the Santa Susana Mountain, and gazing far out over the 3,200 dry acres from the top of the mountain, and sitting quietly with a friend or two (or sister) on the green grass having a picnic lunch, while most all others drive down the hill to the dining hall and then drive back up for more prayer. The smaller chapel was more intimate and comfortable, with more natural light and warmth, versus the more majestic, renowned, windowless, dimly lit, large, stone circular House of the Book. Today it was easier to physically embrace community in Torah, prayer, stories, sound, song, and dance. Seats were all filled. I could share my prayer book with others who had none, and with newcomers, share the translations of prayer songs we sang so that they too felt welcomed and included.

It was good to see friends from other spiritual communities that I don't see for a whole year, and gather at this time in this sacred space. It was good to have a friend to stand with to say Kaddish prayer, who also mourned the death of our beloved Jerusalem rebbe Yosef, zt'l, one year ago. It was good to congratulate others on their successes, have gratitude, hear new insights, stories, share familiar prayers, pleas, songs, share compassion and condolences, witness age-ing and births, and share New Year's blesSings. Important to say MiSheberach prayer for those in need of healing.

For my musical participation, I am grateful that so many people appreciated the gift of the temple sounds of the crystal and Tibetan singing bowls; that they made a difference. The sound was more clear in this holy space, congregants told me. People even said I "played better" than prior years and that they experienced deep meditation; Must be the good energy of the current room (and the angels within). A surprising surge of warmth filled my upper body receiving genuine generous words from others.

Previous years I played the singing bowls as they sat (in good company with shofarot and plants) crowded on the far side and edge of the bima (the honored table where Torah is read, and I was grateful), but the singing bowls at times also sat awkwardly on the bima / stage platform slightly raised floor, where I played them. Instead, this year, the tall small round humble wood table was perfect (that the rabbi gave me) for my singing bowls. I covered table in a long-fringed golden garment, draped to the floor. There was room for only six of my ten Tibetan singing bowls; I also carefully placed my crystal bowl regally in the center of the six. The setting and energy is different every time I play, and it is always with kavanah / spiritual intention.

This holy day, I mostly did not lift the bowls one by one into my hand, always careful to not stifle the sound during transition, but I played them in their place (because they weren't partially hidden). Some bowls in the rear sit higher on pretty Asian pillows so that they are more visible. I like the aesthetics of the setting. Woman Gong in her simple bamboo stand (this year intentionally unadorned), stood sturdy in front of table and chimes-- both hanging and stationery 'energy' chimes. I enjoy playing the large gong with cotton-covered large mallet at the beginning of meditation, and the smaller sweet chimes at the end of the singing bowls, hoping that helps meditation of listeners-- for them to release themselves and 'return'. Hmm, is that like 'tshuvah'?  I did not play my precious little inherited Asian bells, nor my metal ting shas, etc. (For longer meditations, I play a wide array of musical instruments and offer a poetic guided meditation.) At B'nai Horin services, I've played singing bowls for about twenty years.

Strangely, today I also did not play the bowls in the higher sharper tones (with a slight playful exception), and only played metal bowls using the purple cloth-covered soft end of wooden wand. I don't think I sang the bowl rims either and I love making them sing, not just ring. Today (unlike last night's playing) I did not 'wah wah' my bowls-- which vibrates them in a whole different light; They sound like ripples of bubbling water. For the first time last night, I mouthed the word, "love" while I did 'wah wah' them. I also mouthed "shalom". I admit that 'Ohm' resonates more completely, but 'shalom' is authentically mine. 'Love' felt really good. During playing, I realized for the first time that I was smiling, and not as serious a vessel as usual. Maybe because others were smiling at me. :-)

I felt sad when I finished because I realized that although I traveled with the crystal singing bowl circling from shul front to back along the two outer aisles, and to the clergy and workers in far front and back, I never traversed the middle aisle. Oy. I hope all center seated people received the good sounds. I'm always conscious of not taking too much of the rabbis' prayer time as I play, but I feel badly that I unintentionally missed the middle aisle.  For some especially interested people, at the end of the service when they come to me to personally express themselves, I show them how to play. I also play the singing bowls separately for the armed guards and I notice it is hard for them to 'let go of their guard'.

Before arriving at the chapel for High Holy Days, I stopped by the local cemetery, greeted beloved neshamahs, z'l, and took out the crystal singing bowl from it's beautiful purple velvet and satin-lined bag, and played the crystal bowl for the 'welcoming' cemetery staff. My treat was also that I saw a bunny rabbit by my husband's grave. I usually only see hawks soaring high over the hills.  This visit, I also saw last month's fire-burnt to the ground black land adjacent to the graveyard. A blesSing that this hillside fire by the freeway was quickly extinguished, unlike others. May our blesSIngs extend throughout the New Year.

More on crystal and Tibetan singing bowls:

Joy's Tibetan singing bowls, bells, chimes, gongs
B'nai Horin garden, early 1990's.
© Joy Krauthammer

Many special experiences on Rosh HaShana day one and I share two.

1. In the morning, I clearly saw Debbie, z'l, visiting in front of me to my right (facing B'nai Horin congregation). I'm not surprised by her presence. She was listening to us, sing.

2. A magical moment happened for me during Rosh HaShana first day, while responsively reading a prayer out-loud from the machzor. I have 'been drummed' and I have 'been danced' and this following experience was a first.

Prayer book section II - 57,  "Before the Beginning". 
With the congregation, toward the end of the page I read out loud the words, 

"...But we know it is only when angels move us to act
that they reveal their strength…"

The point I need to share is that I had never before seen nor read this page, and what I unconsciously read out loud --was actually NOT the words on the page.

I stunned myself. I heard myself as I spoke one word that was NOT written, in lieu of the written word. I was 'being voiced'.  I reread the written words:

"...But we know it is only when words move us to act
that they reveal their strength…"

I am grateful that angels must have been speaking through me for me to hear them and to voice them.
I am conscious of the fact that I do not acknowledge as often as I could, the angels that are with me, and this was an awesome surprising way for me mamash to hear truth. Baruch HaShem.  Thank you B'nai Horin leaders. It was a Rosh HaShana filled with blesSings and magic and inspiration. And Angels.


May we ALL be Written and sealed in the Book of Life.
It matters how we hear the Book, how we read the Book, how we speak the Book.
How do you hear, read and speak the Book?
~ ~ ~

Angels Move Us
© Joy Krauthammer

~ ~ ~

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Meanings of Shekhinah, Words of Joy

Meanings of Shekhinah in the "Jewish Renewal" Movement

Reprinted with written permission from author Chava Weissler

pp. 53-83 | 10.1353/nsh.2005.0031
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues 10 (2005) 53-83
Chava Weissler

Encountering a feminist conception of God can transform a life. In Los Angeles during the 1980s, Joy Krauthammer encountered feminism through the Los Angeles Jewish Feminist Center, with such Jewish Renewal teachers as Savina Teubal and Sue Elwell, and later with Judith Halevy. "Feminism gave me the ability to worship a God who isn't the Lord. . . . I can pray to the Source of All Blessings." Not long after, she began to attend the Aleph Kallah (the biennial week-long gathering of Renewal Jews) and Elat Chayyim (the Jewish Spiritual Retreat Center), where she learned how to shape her spiritual practice to her new understanding of divinity:
I start the morning by greeting the sun. . . . I go out in my bare feet and dance in the garden as the sun is coming up, and say the Modah Ani [a prayer said on awakening]. I learned it from Shefa Gold at the Kallah in 1993. I learned that I could be free and liberated to express myself in ways I didn't know I could.

A spiritual seeker for most of her adult life, as well as a musician, photographer, and artist, this woman, coming from a secular Jewish background and married to an Orthodox man, had been involved in both Hare Krishna and Chabad (Lubavitch Hasidism) before settling into Jewish Renewal in the early 1990s. While she still maintains connections with the Orthodox and Chabad communities, Krauthammer is so identified with the Jewish Renewal movement that she introduced herself to me by saying, "I am Renewal!" In addition to her work with women teachers, Krauthammer formed deep connections with male Renewal leaders: Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Shlomo Carlebach, David Zeller, and Stan Levy.
How does one speak of (or pray to) "a God who isn't the Lord," in Krauthammer's phrase? 

This article, after giving some background information on "Aleph: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal," will discuss the use of God language in Renewal and explore how it is implicated in the competing versions of feminism expressed and created by women such as Joy. While the theological meanings of God language are important, the focus here will be on its social meanings, that is, on the implications of this mode of constructing gender for the lives of women and men in the Jewish Renewal movement. Renewal Jews insist that God cannot be comprehended in human language and must be addressed in multiple images. However, one of the most revolutionary moves they make is their reshaping of the mythological figure of the Shekhinah, the feminine divine of Kabbalah. Jewish Renewal's understanding of Shekhinah will be compared to the figure of Shekhinah in classical Kabbalah and to other forms of God language in Renewal. Further, I will argue that the Shekhinah of Jewish Renewal can only be understood if we take into account Renewal's emphasis on artistic avenues for spiritual expression.

"Jewish Renewal is Hasidism meets feminism."
Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank
"Renewal is a well-spring of women's energy."
Nan Fink Geffen
"God is coming through the women this time."
Barbara Breitman
~ ~ ~ 

I also encountered LA feminism at the Shekhina Conference, 1984, chaired by Dr. Gloria F. Orenstein, USC Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Gender Studies. Now I am blessed that I am friends with Gloria. - Joy Krauthammer

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Creating My Shofar


In glowing terms I told the visiting SHOFAR FACTORY mavens (Levi from Australia, and Mendel from Brooklyn, as well as my Chabad rabbi) about the Hearing Shofar site and about Shofar Corps!!!  I enjoy reading and contributing thoughts to this expansive shofar site:

I do own, enjoy, and play daily during Elul, a lovely light pearly colored, curvy shiny smooth shofar that I bought in the Old City. 

One of the mavens' dozen display horns was a Gemsbok; I recognized the earthy, long straight heavily rimmed and rough brown natural horn which can double as a percussion guiro!

Mavens and I arrived in Chabad parking lot at same time for the children's (and "young at heart") workshop.  From their car trunk, they brought in a several small horns for the young kids, and when I asked, they allowed me to look myself through their horn-filled car trunk. Looked like a horn graveyard, not appealing or respectful, but a whole lot of horns piled in to choose from. I didn't want an arbitrary horn.

In their auto trunk were a million small horns; I picked out one; not that I liked it or was drawn to it, didn't even have wonderful curvature, but a slight subtle curve, one flat side, no unwanted holes, and it did fit my hand size. I liked it more than the several others I lifted which did not appeal to me and were rough, flaky, scaly, barely curved, dull, thin or short. They didn't call out to me to take them. A very sad day if this was a pet adoption center.

I made the horn mine by stroking it, turning it over and over, like Torah. Touched the inside, the outside. I really liked the smooth dark pointy horn tip. I expected that the horn inside would smell bad and was surprised that the horn smelled OK.

There was a peculiar partially loose membrane tissue layer inside horn's large opening that I tried many times to remove. I mostly got it out by peeling, picking, scraping, and sanding it away without soaking it in hot water-- which is what I'd been advised to do at home.

I liked the horn's natural outside roughness but the maven said G*d wants us to beautify it and enhance it and do some work for it, so nu, I sanded and sanded. Looked dull, not polished. … I do know about Hiddur Mitzvah. Without being told, I also sanded the new 'to be' mouth piece to a pleasant bevel. 

With a slightly curved hanger wire, I measured the inside length of ram's horn until where it was plugged with core, and made a mark a little further on the outside of horn. Rabbi had earlier made a shorter mark but I liked my longer mark for where tip would be cut off. (Better safe than sorry.)

Wearing a dust mask and heavy gloves, I power sawed off the tip after I had sanded forever. I'd never used a hand power saw but I DID today! Had a trigger and was heavy and I kept pushing deeper and increasing the speed. I was the only one who insisted on doing it myself! I DID IT MYSELF and it looked good! The small cut piece has a beautiful coloring. I kept the 2 1/3" tip. I like the tip but it's too short for a percussion striker. If it was an umbilical cord, I would have buried it in ceremony.

Then, at my request, my rabbi let me drill a bit of the solid small end for the mouthpiece but he did most of the boring which is good so I didn't blow it. I had to participate in my shofar creating! I blew the dust out of hole but barely felt the expelled air. 

When after drilling the rabbi blew it-- now a shofar, and it sounded great! Now my turn. On my own, I said Shehecheyanu.  And ME, I can't get a sound out of it… OK, then I got a nothing / gornisht sound out of it, maybe a newborn baby single tekiah, so I know we both have potential…
oy vey.

Babies come through narrow straights. My rabbi quoted something about "narrow straights…"  What was that?  Mitzrayim? The maven said that I'll practice and get better.

Sanded large irregular open end to get off a small bothersome nubby chunk like nipple on the inside. I feel like the big open end has been circumcised to a new form, and it doesn't feel good. Sorry I let the maven sand off the nubbiness. They were ready to pack up after a couple hours, and were in a hurry so I didn't insist on doing it myself.  (I had let all the little kids go ahead of me.) I worked on another broken notchy place to smooth that out on same open large end.

I went outside the shul, and with consciousness held up with skinny wood skewers my shofar to the large spray can of shellac, noticing the wind direction. I shellacked the shofar to make it shiny because the mavens said that's what you do to make shofar look professional. With the sticks in my hand holding up shofar, it dries without my finger prints all over it, which there are anyway because I like touching it. 
(I like water smoothed rounded black river stones and like them shiny, so I add water or oil to them.)

I wouldn't have shellacked but there were two small scaly rough spots on the outside that would splinter and that refused to smooth out even though I sanded them for over an hour. I didn't have "filler wood" that the maven suggested. ("Not halachic" according to Hearing Shofar.) The more I sanded, the worse they got. Almost sanded to the inside. I added extra shellac to the layered rough spots. (It didn't help.)

What used to be a dull medium brown horn color is now a shiny, very dark mahogany shofar color. (I tried sanding off some shiny shellac and it only leaves unsatisfactory sanding scratchy lines!) Thankfully some of the horn texture where I purposefully only lightly sanded toward the narrow tapered end, is still visible looking like lovely dark and light wind ripples on the ocean sand or water. I don't like dark!

It's my shofar. With kavannah, I MADE IT.  Wish I could blow the notes on it…  I would like to connect to my shofar…

I dedicate my shofar making to my beloved rebbe, Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, z'l, a singer of holy songs. He would have loved it that I made my own shofar. He would have loved it more if I could blow it.  Yosef's first yahrzeit is in 12 days. May he hear all the sounds of the shofarot around the world and in heaven.

© Joy Krauthammer

My Chabad rabbi tells me:
"It works just fine. Keep trying..."

next day. TEKIAH
Listening on the phone to my daughter and her cooing with baby infant and many new sounds, I picked up my new shofar, placed it in my hand, rolled it around to a comfort zone and while continuing to listen on the phone-- made a very long extended crystal clear high blast. I was stunned! Yet I knew it would happen because I wanted it badly and visioned it.  Baruch Hashem
My daughter didn't appreciate the blast and told me to warn her next time. She didn't understand my challenge.

 Blessing before Hearing Shofar  (from Hearing Shofar)

Baruch atah Adonai Elokaynu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu lishmo-ah kol shofar.

Blessed are you, Eternal One our G*d, Universal Sovereign, who sanctifies us with holy ways and commands us to hear the voice of shofar.

Following first time you hear shofar in Elul or Rosh Hashanah and at other significant occasions:

Baruch atah Adonai Elokaynu Melech ha-olam,
shehecheyanu, v’kiyamanu, v’higiyanu, lazman hazeh.

~ ~ ~

Before, During, and After photos

Joy's Shofar
© Joy Krauthammer

Faces of the same single Shofar

photos & collage by Joy Krauthammer ©

Mendel and Levi, Shofar Factory mavens sawing off a horn tip
© Joy Krauthammer 

Rosh Chodesh Elul 5773
My hand made shofar gives great pleasure to friend, Cindy, at home on hospice.
 On this Rosh Chodesh Elul, Cindy is in awe of the little shofar, and happy to hear me play shofar on every visit.


~ JOY Krauthammer

SOUNDS of the SHOFAR (SOS) inspire me to open with a blast, the beginning of Elul on day one, Rosh Chodesh, for self-reflection/Cheshbon Hanefesh, knowing I can meet Our Beloved in the field. A serious soul journey lies ahead, and I am inspired to meditate on SOS!

SOS inspire me for the New Year to once again seasonally awaken to my Jewish tradition and heritage, and connect to my faith and beliefs, knowing SOS in the same sequence of blasts are heard around the world.
SOS help me to stimulate others when I play shofar. Friends receiving SOS are a gift to me, and I am further inspired with Chesed to give more and joyously do more mitzvot.
SOS, as I practice playing, inspire me to study Torah and understand more fully.

SOS inspire me to Shma/listen silently to the notes, and more deeply, in awe, and with strong kavannah/intention to be a better Ba'alat Tekiah (as my husband, z'l, taught me when we bought our first shofar in the Old City.
Sounds of the Shofar inspire me to breathe deeply, expansively --G*d in and out.
SOS inspire me to use tools, instruments of music of my own faith, and to mamash delve deeper and higher into my Judaism.
SOS inspires me to share with pride and joy in interfaith gatherings with my own authentic ancient Jewish instrument of sound-- shofar, in addition to spiritually playing drum/tof and timbrel ala Miriyahm HaNeviah in temples. SOS inspire me to carve my own personal shofar.

The shofar inspires me through grateful breath to connect L'Dor V'Dor with my children and their child; to the Holy One, Mount Moriah, Mount Sinai, and to our People, all the way back to the ram caught in the thicket by its horns (Genesis 22:13); and to our Matriarch, Sarah, who died because of the Akeda/ the BindingWhen I save little goats with their horned heads stuck in fences, and I give them freedom--I am inspired. Baruch Hashem.

~ ~ ~


Friday, August 24, 2012


Art of Aging

Excerpt: "The month of Elul, proceeding High Holy Days, is set aside for contemplation and self-assessment.
Collected by noted national Jewish musician Craig Taubman of Craig N Co., the "Jewels of Elul" is a collection of stories, experiences, and inspiration from rabbis, teachers, and contemporary thinkers who share their insight on thought provoking topics."

Questions are posed (by R. Raphael Goldstein) to readers for the ELUL JOURNEY 5772
You can subscribe.
I submitted my immediate spontaneous responses to JEWELS OF ELUL. 
Some include:



* NO, because it was 3,000 miles away.
* This Jamaica H.S. 50th graduation reunion was held a few months ago, a few years earlier than normal, so that more graduates would not be dead, z'l, by the 50th year.
* I had no interest in going. If I had wanted to see classmates, I would have contacted them.
* A couple dear friends from H.S., I continue to nourish in relationship and visit. Others since the reunion, I have reached out to by e-mail (not FB), and was happy to have that temporary contact. 
* Most of my friends had graduated the prior year and wouldn't have been at my graduation.
* In addition, I knew I was going back east the next week or so for the birth of a granddaughter.
(The H.S. friends I still have today, did not go to the reunion.)


I don't know that there would be a surprise with what I have done. Being a Gemini, I 'do' a lot. (Maybe the other classmates have also.) The specific interests I was active in-- I have no connection with today (except photography, gardening, and catching fireflies).  What I do today is not what I did in H.S.  Well, some of it is in a different leadership garment. I take some crazy risks, just to get away with it, and accomplish what I want.  I am still a photographer taking risks. I skipped H.S. graduation to go and study art in Spain (without parental permission). (As protest, I also skipped college graduation ceremony, walking out in cap and gown, with Dr. Spock, and went on to graduate school also in art.) 

Knowing one was not allowed to photograph Spain's dictator, Generalisimo, Presidente, His Excellency Francisco Franco, behind a bush I hide with my camera and the gendarmerie caught me. I partied with toreadors in Avila, and was threatened with being sent home! I climbed out of my Madrid dorm and down fire escapes to escape. (Ask me why.) In college I climbed up fire escapes into Carnegie Hall and found an empty seat in the very front orchestra next to actor Stacy Keach, and to listen to folk singer, Judy Collins, following my Manhattan Xmas carolling gig. (And it is said "the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice!") 

Challenging myself, I've continued to climb up and over high locked walls to get in and out of closed places…  When arrested in my last college year on the Schuylkill River, for trespassing (without walls) an island with mating geese, I was released from the police station. (I had told police I had no ID and I was "joyous Joy from Utopia".) I went on to take over my college president's office…  It was still the 'sixties'. When at times I (foolishly) hitchhiked up and down the eastern seaboard, I had a H.S. classmate with me, so she is not surprised.

My midot / personality character traits are the same and more refined. It feels good that people I hadn't contacted in fifty years until now, remembered me as active, and kind with a smile. Baruch Hashem, that's still me. (It's fine that no one can find me by my maiden name.)

Only in college was I consciously formulating my life's goals, not yet knowing concept of 'mission'.  My favorite worn t-shirt read, "Do what you love, love what you do, and the whole world will come to you."


I like this question. I'm still the same joyous person filled with ideals and ethics and awe in my core; always studying, learning, discovering, writing, celebrating and sharing. Since H.S., I'm no longer a violinist, clarinetist or pianist; instead I'm a percussionist and artist, reflecting the creative person I am. I have more experience, more wisdom and understanding, more gratitude and appreciation, more direction, more peace, meditation and introspection, more talents, more tsuris, more consciousness, intuition and instinct, more compassion and chesed / lovingkindness and trust in G*d and less in humans, although I am less judgmental of others, and more of myself during High Holidays, Tashlich, and Omer counting time. Now a senior and still playful, I know that the spirituality and love as a teen that I craved and embraced with the Hare Krishnas and swamis, embrace me now in Judaism and G*d.

~ ~ ~


Name three things you are truly grateful for today. 
Name three things you used to be grateful for. 
Name three things you hope to be grateful for near the end of your days.

A water-filled, sun-warmed pool and its owner, so I keep my health and enjoyment, and can live in my own home.
Sunrise, G*d's fig tree, gardens and gardener, and my passion for nature so I can eat from the vines and photograph beauty. 
Friends, Family, Clergy, and The Compassionate One who love me and we share, and I Serve In Joy. 

Plum, peach, nectarine & apricot trees, obm, and the greater garden.
My husband, z'l, Friends, z'l, Family, z'l. 
My rebbes, z'l.

Family, Friends, Love
G*d's revealed miracles/blesSings, and a pool (or ocean) for health and pleasure.
Peace/Shalom, wonders, opportunities.

- Joy Krauthammer 

"If you had to name something that really amazed you in the last few days, what would it be?"

PS 2 days later:
Clouds in the early morning, colored in pink, and then later faster moving, changing patterns behind palm trees and then in patches covering the whole expanse of sky.
The water ripples reflecting in the pool that are made by breeze, motor, and my body parts.
The banana flower and bananas I only noticed yesterday for first time in Edith's paradise garden.
The weird, larger than similar to ant-like bugs that increased in multitudes from Edith's one leafy kale plant to all four or five plants.
At how delicious the bitter kale leaves are when sauteed with a little tomato.
The empty hummingbird feeders that Edith only filled a couple days ago, and are not empty.
The pool in its clean crystalness after the pool man has come and gone.
That the fig tree is now all leafy, free from its figs that I have been picking every day for over a month.
That the photos that couldn't be found where they should be in Apple's iPhoto returned to their right location, and that the Apple senior tech could make my photos send once again.
Amazed me that the Subway tuna sandwich maker didn't even put the 6th medium sized tomato slice on the roll, and that I had to ask for the bread to be covered.  :(  
Amazed that the Shul's Slichot drum circle facilitator after teaching the newbies how to follow his instructions, came to me and said, "Joy, play whatever you like." I was relieved.
Amazed that the Slichot pulpit rabbi told the new rabbinic intern my e-address by memory.
~ ~ ~

"If you had to name three pieces of poetry or liturgy that bring meaning to you as you age, what would they be? 
Why would you choose each?"

I don't "fight against growing old", and I don't "passively accept it", nor do I "go gently into that good night", nor "rage, rage", all poetic words thoughtfully pondered by one of the Jewels' authors.

As long as I can laugh and I'm not in pain, I celebrate and light-heartedly accept my age-ing, and acknowledge poems that I relate to while my straight white/silver/grey hairs take over my head, not behaving well as did my dark curls. Sometimes to amuse myself, I add sparkly purple paint to my hair, a poem of pleasure.

My favorite personal whimsical poem is one that is very often quoted to me, especially in shul, because I most always wear purple. In shul this last Shabbat, the rabbi called on a congregant to speak who introduced herself as "Joy's disciple", which was very cute because Shoshi was wearing purple! Inside and outside, purple makes me feel good, and I feel purple reflects my soul, so I wear purple as I've done for decades. My clothes hangers are purple, as is my car and eyeglass frames that people love to notice when up close. I'm told I have a purple aura. (I even order purple Birkenstocks!) To shul I also wear purple-feathered hats or kipas and a purple ribboned woven tallit or other purple embellished talleisim; many garments I've commissioned to suit my purple joy. My performing drum is dressed in purple sequins.

Thus, the ONE secular renowned POEM written in 1961 by English woman Jenny Joseph that speaks most easily to me is, "Warning", but usually affectionately is known as "When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple", or "the Purple Poem" or "Old Woman" or "I Shall Wear Purple".

Joy Krauthammer

Favorite lines from WARNING:
"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
"But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple."
- Jenny Joseph

~ ~ ~

"If you had to name three times of your life in which you were stunned by what you had done, what would they be? 
"What was stunning about them? 
"What does the memory of each bring to you?"

"Stunned" myself when I spontaneously told the nurse on duty what not to do with a medical tube while he cared for my husband, z'l, who had already been on life support for six months following 17 years of horrific cancer. "Stunning" because my action took loving courage. "Memory" brings sadness, discord, discomfort, relief, belief. Thoughts about being present for patient and for G*d.

Stunned myself at funeral for husband, z'l, during burial of deceased in plain wood coffin in ground, when I screamed out, "FREE AT LAST, HE'S FREE AT LAST." Stunning was the absolute TRUTH and intensity I expressed as his soul took flight from his ravaged body. The memory brings me contentment knowing I made for my husband the best funeral for the next part of his soul's journey.

Stunned myself when I climbed over gated and LOCKED very high wire chain-link protective walls, and gated wood fences. One Shabbos in Jerusalem at Hebrew University the nearby gates by the dorms were locked. In order TO GET OUT of the university I followed my daughter up and over the high locked chain-link wall. Stunning because in my life I'd never done something difficult like that. Stunning in desire, determination, courage, netzach, persistence, as well as fear of being left behind.

With that event, shortly later, I used my experience and daring to climb over a high heavy LOCKED gated wooden wall surrounding the entire Ft. Worth, Texas Botanical Garden in order TO GET IN. After flying to Dallas and driving a rented car to visit the Garden, and finding I was too late and Garden was closed, I was NOT going to give up and go home without enjoying the garden, so UP AND OVER. Stunning because it was insane what I did. Yes, this later case I trespassed, but when I've trespassed my own boundaries, it took even more courage and adrenaline. The memories of up and over bring me great pleasure and a smile at my accomplishments and enjoyment of events.

Elul 8
"How do you express your creativity? 
"Name two ways in which you are creative, and how that creativity influences how you live your life."  

The ARTS are how I seriously express my Judaism and neshama/soul through creativity.  Every day I illustrate my writing-- prose and poetry with my photos of my own art, events, or nature for my (over 80) personal websites. (ARTS was the theme of my illustrated MBA thesis.)

I photograph others' creativity (especially a friend's garden), and with that influence I LIVE MY LIFE with great appreciation and GRATITUDE. The other day I photographed a tree's triple trunk that looked like the letter Shin, representative of G*d's name. Last week I made a pretty purple 'dress' for my writing tool, my computer. 

Another passionate expression I am blessed with is my drumming.  For over a couple decades, I serve at temples as spiritual percussionist accompanying cantors and musicians.  

Creativity influences me because it makes me happy being surrounded by endless joy in community, and Torah, surprise, meaning, humor and beauty of life. Most of my hours are creatively spent, and mitzvot are daily.  

I am influenced to do more of what I enjoy and am driven to do, because I know that people receive inspiration, pleasure or healing from my gifts and I receive their circulating joy.  Standing as musician by the bima, I look out and see faces of congregants and can tell if someone may be in need of compassion and I will share chesed/loving kindness.  New people are visible to me and with intention I introduce them to each other, and I feel that makes the world closer.  

I want others to manifest their passions, and in my workshops I am influenced to share and offer art projects that others may vision and seed their dreams with blesSings.  Being creative, I "Serve G*d In Joy"* in these ways that encompass Divine purpose, and my personal mission on earth.  My life is expansively filled with wonder, awareness, consciousness of what is around me, even seen as shadows, seeing the beauty and awesomeness of G*D from before sunrise to after sunset, even this moment as I write. 

 - Joy Krauthammer 

* Psalm 100:2

Reb Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen, zt"l, taught me: "Women have a very great potential within them to intensely experience spiritual life and joy within their bodies. This may be the deeper reason why the Talmud mentions that a woman of sixty will dance like a six-year old to the sound of musical instruments (Moed Katan 9b)." Amayn

May your work inspire others to serve the altruistic Divine purpose through the mitzvos of the Torah - the Divine Teaching.
Simcha and Shalom!

"... In order to fully and properly fulfill the life-giving purpose of our creation, we study Torah - the Divine Teaching. And in order for us to accomplish our personal and collective mission on this earth, we need to study all areas of Torah wisdom. Nevertheless, different neshamos may need to initially focus more on different areas of the Divine wisdom."

"... Yet when we strive to serve the Community of Israel - the children of the radical and righteous patriarchs and matriarchs - Hashem helps us! And in the process of serving our brothers and sisters, we ourselves grow and mature, as we become more loving and giving."

May Hashem help each of us to be a loving Kohen.
Have a Shabbat Shalom!


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7 Elul
"If you had to name 3 ways in which you will have LEFT THE WORLD MORE VIBRANT as a result of our presence, what would they be?"

Baruch Hashem, My JOY and passion (received publicly through my spiritual connecting to G*d ARTs: music, art, writing voice, and purple Jewish ritual) inspires and uplifts others which then encourages me.  
Joyously sharing G*d's gifts in the Sephirotic Tree of Life, including intangibles and small ~ love, compassion, friendship, justice, truth, beauty, awe, wonder, wisdom, nature, energy. Turning lemons into lemonade.  

My welcoming smile for even one person, and inclusiveness, being present and responsive, and serving as shadchen in many realms.  

Creating ARTs and Jewish educational programs, and teaching Torah.  

Shabbat shalom,  
JOY Krauthammer
I believe that the more one is cognizant of oneself in the universe, the more good one can continue to do with one's G*d given gifts-- out loud or quietly.
Bottom Line: My leaving the world more vibrant is my "SERVING G*D IN JOY".
"Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha"

I think an earlier post, JOY AS HEALER,  in my Joy's Joy, also answers the question, 

                                                                                    ~ ~ ~

If you had to name an older person with whom you have had deep conversations, who would that person be? 
"What did you talk about? 
"In what ways was the conversation memorable to you?” 

Today, this early morning while SWIMMING in a neighbor's pool, my 90 year old Christian, daily life-guard Edith, when I told her about one of the Jewels of Elul questions, asked, "Why are these questions asked?" 

I went on to explain the Jewels of Elul essays on Ageing and described the ensuing questions. I told Edith that yesterday I had written and submitted about 'rituals' that carried with me from childhood until now. When I stated the only ritual that I could immediately remember that I had written, Edith stated, "That is not a ritual, it's a habit". I acknowledged to her that maybe I used the wrong key word but felt I'd answered correctly.  

After that discussion I went home and reread the question and found the word was "ROUTINE" not ritual! Aha.  While still at the pool this morning we continued to talk about "tunnel" (in the Mohini Elul 1 story) and freedom and slavery, and even if we are removed from slavery, 'it' may still be within us and for what reasons, whether it is Jews, Black or freed jailed prisoners. We spoke of family, mitzvot, daily news (political biological rape issues (oy, I don't bring up 'abortion'), justice (principles), ethics (politicians, clergy and sports leaders), public policy and what is not written in the press, kindness, sechel vs brilliance, gardener and tools, technical issues with computers and how to deal with them.  (Enlarge for zooming with command +)

We spoke of what to do for a person going onto hospice that would be helpful to them. We spoke of the beauty of the veggie garden (and then I ate her tomatoes), lousy LAUSD conditions, immigrants, Dems vs Republicans, the behavior of animals and people, medical problems and why not to drive with vertigo, caring for palm trees, beauty of blue skies when the sun appears and chases the solid grey clouds away, and malfunctioning Nikon cameras!  (even though I kept it dry in the water while capturing my reflection, not shadow.) 

OK, todays swim session lasted two hours for me in the water with not a lot of strokes, but paddling and keeping afloat in place near Edith's life-guard chair, multi-pronged cane and phone. I continued to remove palm tree pruning debris from the pool while we spoke. (Why can't she prune closer to Sukkot?)

When I returned home, and she knew I'd be busily working on deadlines, Edith called to share a bit more about "tunnels" vs cages, and how one can or can not enter or exit to the light from the darkness. She was right on!  I reminded Edith that I realized I had mostly sub-conscious trouble with the word "tunnel" because it was what I had to go through during my grieving process for my husband, z'l. For 13 weeks, the support group clergy ended the session with "light will be at the end of the tunnel."

Why memorable? I am truly blessed that this 90 year old Christian wise woman is one of my closest, dearest friends in the world, whom I consider my mentor. As individuals, and members of a People, and a Nation, what we discuss matters to us, even when we disagree. 

Yesterday Edith wanted to know the difference between "my rabbis and my rebbes" that I mention every day, and why my rebbe is my rebbe, and do we pray with intermediaries or directly to G*d, and have I turned my rebbes into "idols". Oy. And yesterday we also talked about, is it OK to speak with mediums and bring up the deceased, and Edith said, no one is here to say what really happens after we die! I decided that even though my path has crossed many mediums, not to discuss that last comment, even though I know where I have been...  I pray to G*D that Edith lives in good health to 120. I've already gone through a "tunnel". 

- Joy Krauthammer

LINK FOR older person with whom you have had deep conversations:

~ ~ ~

"If you had to name something that really amazed you in the last few days, what would it be? 

"What about something that really amazed you in the last 2 months? 

"Name something that amazed you in the last year. 

"What was so incredible about each of these things?"

The hummingbirds drinking the gallons of food my friend makes. The huge hawk in my garden next to the fig tree. Bon Bon* the huge furry grey cat that likes me, got shaved (in the 110* heat) and now looks like a poodle. Amazed that Lola the big Black Lab really does doggie paddle in the pool while holding two green slimy tennis balls in his mouth.

Figs ripening on my tree that return anew each year after I prune heavily for Tu B'Shvat. That lizards keep living on my porch and look at me. Also my baby granddaughter who amazes me with her new sounds and gestures.

Amazed that I could share hundreds of baby fig trees that grow from the giving tree, and give fruit to new gardeners. Amazed that the gopher does not give up! 

"Incredible about all these things" is that the Divine One created them on earth, and each must survive in their own way.

BlesSings, Joy Krauthammer


                                                                             ~ ~ ~

Don't think I'll "describe A ROUTINE since childhood that I've carried throughout my life", but list and share several because they give me pleasure to acknowledge them, especially wonders of nature.


Trying to catch fireflies (on east coast), or a snowflake on my tongue. (now raindrops)

Still blowing bubbles! (even in my kitchen)

Still appreciating and picking up fallen seed pods from trees and examining the treasures.

Searching for sea shells in the sand and ocean. (when not in The Valley)

Stomping and crunching fallen dry leaves in the fall. Picking up red leaves and drying them. 

Crunching rubbery seaweed pods on the sand.

Playing with cats, even though I'm highly allergic.

Eating raw corn on the cob.

Writing, but now on computer instead of 16 page hand-written letters.

Eating 2 cooked eggs every morning. (egg whites only now)

Using the same old serrated grapefruit spoon and knife for my half grapefruit, but today I have the blesSing to pick citrus from my tree.

Learning every day, and showing kindness.

BlesSings, Joy Krauthammer

~ ~ ~

 "How do you live your life as an art? 
 "How does this make a difference as you age?  
 "Name 3 ways in which you see your life as art, not science."

I am an 'Artist of Life'
- Joy Krauthammer

My life as art comes from my heART. 
It beats as a drum and it is open and flows in abunDance.  
It is open to you.  
It is open to Oneness.   

The Kavannah/intention of my ART I live is uplifting and inspiring, authentic, truthful and joyous.  

ART does not hide; my art shares emotion, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, newness, oldness, nowness and Tiferet/beauty.  

I am pro-active in the creative role of writing, story-telling, sculpting, weaving, carving, potting, painting, planting, singing, dancing, drumming and photographing life.  
My art of life is a train track that travels as a Gemini in many directions, not direct on my journey,  
(and I hope, higher and higher)  
 and picking up passengers along the Tree of Life, my path.  

My Chesed/loving-kindness, sharing, giving, receiving, and Netzach/forward direction is felt and can not be measured (as is "science").  
I instinctively and intuitively know I ARTfully make a difference through my heART.  

ARTfully and heARTfully I am dedicated to being Joy.  
I will arrive at the Gate of Heaven and it shall be known that I was Joy, and not Zusha, nor you.  
Artfully I passionately and purpley infuse my life with love, vitality and joy and fairness.  
If on a measured balance scale, my artist of life being would tip toward Spirit, not science.  
(nor accomplished chores)  

ARTfully I am grateful to be alive in 4 Worlds of spirit, mind, heart and body.   

 Artfully and heARTfully I am grateful for many of the challenges and opportunities  in my life.  
In others, I try to discover and reveal the hidden blesSings.  
If science directed, I would lead in anxiety, not hope and faith.  
I would count my tears of grief, not warmth of joy.  

As I age, when I look back being an 'artist of life', 
I am happily surprised at where I've been, what I've done, how I've done, and with whom, and at what times. 
I have some regrets. 
I offer Brachot/blesSings. I teach how to give blesSings.
As I age, I recognize my mentors, and the transformation 
as I honor the years from mid-life to elder and sage as I become wisdom keeper and mentor. 
In ceremony and empowerment, I celebrated my baby-boomer Simchat Chochmah ~ Joy of Wisdom.

When I was a teen, aside from competitive scored sports where I was 'captain', I had no measurable skills, talents, degrees, but I had a natural innate joyous way of being, a smile and kindness-- I am told 50 years later by people who knew me then, closely or from the distance. 
 I still smile joyously because I am connected to G*D and community, and embrace the sacred in my life.  
As I age, I am more aware of this relationship to the Holy One
and Serving G*d in Joy. 
We LOVE each other.
May G*d bless you.

-  Joy Krauthammer

~ ~ ~


SOUNDS of the SHOFAR (SOS) inspire me to open with a blast, the beginning of Elul on day one, Rosh Chodesh, for self-reflection/Cheshbon Hanefesh, knowing I can meet Our Beloved in the field. A serious soul journey lies ahead, and I am inspired to meditate on SOS!

SOS inspire me for the New Year to once again seasonally awaken to my Jewish tradition and heritage, and connect to my faith and beliefs, knowing SOS in the same sequence of blasts are heard around the world.
SOS help me to stimulate others when I play shofar. Friends receiving SOS are a gift to me, and I am further inspired with Chesed to give more and joyously do more mitzvot.
SOS, as I practice playing, inspire me to study Torah and understand more fully.

SOS inspire me to Shma/listen silently to the notes, and more deeply, in awe, and with strong kavannah/intention to be a better Ba'alat Tekiah (as my husband, z'l, taught me when we bought our first shofar in the Old City.
Sounds of the Shofar inspire me to breathe deeply, expansively --G*d in and out.
SOS inspire me to use tools, instruments of music of my own faith, and to mamash delve deeper and higher into my Judaism.
SOS inspires me to share with pride and joy in interfaith gatherings with my own authentic ancient Jewish instrument of sound-- shofar, in addition to spiritually playing drum/tof and timbrel ala Miriyahm HaNeviah in temples. SOS inspire me to carve my own personal shofar.

The shofar inspires me through grateful breath to connect L'Dor V'Dor with my children and their child; to the Holy One, Mount Moriah, Mount Sinai, and to our People, all the way back to the ram caught in the thicket by its horns (Genesis 22:13); and to our Matriarch, Sarah, who died because of the Akeda/ the BindingWhen I save little goats with their horned heads stuck in fences, and I give them freedom--I am inspired. Baruch Hashem.

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